Breastfeeding is one of the most effective ways to ensure a child’s health and survival. On our previous post, we discussed some of the important questions surrounding breastfeeding. Today, with the help of Dr Oyebanji, we answer some of the other important questions many mothers and families have about breastfeeding.
Healthfacts: What type of diet should a mother be on when breastfeeding to help her supply of breastmilk?
Dr Oyebanji: A breastfeeding mother should be on a balanced diet that has protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. All African diet are rich when properly combined to meet up the nutritional demand of a breastfeeding mother. When a mother takes rice, it can be combined with egg, fish, meat and vegetables. It should also be ensured that she takes fruit and water regularly.
Groundnuts, melon, sesame seeds. milk and soya milk are food items that have been found by experts to help with milk secretion.
How long should breastfeeding be for?
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that a child should be exclusively breast fed for the first six months of life. It also recommends that breastfeeding should be continued till a child is two years of age. From six months, complementary food can be added to a child’s diet until the child is two years.
For how long can breastmilk be stored after expressing?
Breastmilk can be stored even without refrigeration. It can be stored in a plastic container and left without any fear of contamination for a period of 6 to 24 hours. All that is needed to be done is to keep it in another big bowl containing water after expressing it into a container. It can then be covered with a plastic cover. Whenever the child needs to feed, the breast milk can be taken and warmed to normal body temperature.
Breastmilk can stay in the refrigerator when there’s uninterrupted power supply for 5 to 7 days. In freezers, it can stay up to 6 weeks if appropriately stored in zip lock bags with good hygiene and cleanliness maintained.
Is it advisable to use breast pumps?
Breast pumps are devices that help in expressing breast milk with the aid of machines which can be electrical or manual. Breast pumps are advisable because they help the mother to express and keep breastmilk. This can make her breast milk available even when she’s not around. It also helps the process of pumping breast milk to be faster rather than expressing it with hands.
Can a mother take medications while breastfeeding?
A mother can take medications while breastfeeding. However, the medications have to be prescribed by a qualified medical doctor. A qualified doctor will know the drugs that are safe in a breastfeeding mother and won’t prescribe what is harmful to a baby.
Can a woman breastfeed if she has HIV or any other sexually transmitted disease?
In the event that a woman has HIV, it has been shown that exclusive breastfeeding can still be practiced. This is in fact being promoted by WHO especially in developing countries. Breastmilk contains antibodies that can protect the lining of the intestine of the baby from invasion from bacteria or viruses. Hence, with the practice of exclusive breastfeeding, even if HIV is present in the woman’s breastmilk, it would not be able to penetrate into the child.
There are also other measures that can be taken. This involves the woman being started on antiretroviral drugs during pregnancy. With the adherence to the drugs, the chance of transmitting the virus to the child becomes very low. The child is also commenced on post exposure prophylactic drug once born making the transmission level very insignificant. Exclusive breastfeeding especially in low-income countries is more advisable to such mothers. It ensures that the child is even better protected from risk of infections.
Can breastfeeding be contraindcated?
Yes. In some mothers, it is not advisable to breastfeed. This include mothers that have active tuberculosis infection, that is, they have not yet commenced medications. Also, in cases of active syphilis, women that are on anticancer drugs (as this can be secreted into the breastmilk), women that are addicted and are not yet weaned off alcohol consumption, women that are on recreational drugs such as cocaine, heroin and cannabis.
This is however not set in stone as the situation can still be managed in some cases. For instance, for women that have tuberculosis, they can commence treatment immediately and resume breastfeeding within 2 weeks of treatment. For women that consume alcohol, with counseling and behavioral changes, if they can cease the use of these drugs, breastfeeding can be commenced afterwards.
Thank you so much Dr Oyebanji for these answers!
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